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… Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. – Jesus, Luke 10:42

How much of the time do you feel the pressure of expectation? Sometimes, the expectation is from others. Sometimes it is what we expect of ourselves. In either case, feeling someone expects you to do something creates frustration and a sense of inadequacy within us.

I may expect to provide a standard of living for my family greater than my income will allow. This may lead me to neglect the very ones I love to provide something they are not even anxious to have – simply because I put the expectation on myself (perhaps because of pride).

A wife may pressure her husband to be “a better provider.” As a result, she shows continual dissatisfaction with him as a husband because he is not doing better than he is. This puts tension on the relationship – either by his working longer hours or by her constant pressure.

We do the same in our relationship to the Lord. Some churches put much pressure on their members to “be involved.” In addition, many Christians put pressure on themselves to “be there every time the church doors are open.” This keeps our “yoke” with Christ from being easy and light as Jesus promised (see Matthew 11:28-30). Instead, our “religion” becomes a burden that “neither we nor our fathers were able to bear” (see Acts 15:10). Peter said that when we do this we “test God.”

What Jesus Said About This

Martha had an important guest she welcomed into her home. Jesus and His disciples were there, and she wanted to provide Him with the best she could offer. The only problem was that her sister was not helping. Martha became so frustrated she came to Jesus and asked him to send Mary, who was sitting at His feet listening to Him, back to the kitchen to help her prepare the meal.

Instead of doing as Martha requested, Jesus rebuked her. I am certain the rebuke was gentle, spoken with patience and affection – certainly not harsh in tone:

Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.

What were the “many things” that troubled and worried Martha? I strongly suspect that she was concerned about putting on a fine meal, perhaps with many items on the menu.

When I was about 12, I remember going with Parker Henderson, who was preaching in a gospel meeting, to the home of someone who had invited him and his guests to dine with them before the evening service. The “country table” had every kind of food I could imagine. There were fried chicken, country ham, roast beef, more vegetables than twice the number of people present could have eaten, plus assorted pies and cakes for deserts. Almost the first thing the hostess did when we sat down to eat was to apologize that she had so little to offer us, when she had obviously spend the day preparing that repast.

I see Martha as that woman.

Jesus was not interested in a huge meal. A simple meal, even of one item only, was enough to satisfy Him. He was more interested in conversation. That is why He said Mary had chosen the better part.

I do not believe He meant by this that we should never have more than one “dish” in a meal. I do believe He means for us to simplify our lives, not as fanatics – but as a matter of priorities.

In Obadiah 17, there is a curious expression in the King James Version: “The house of Israel shall possess their possessions” (NIV – “possess their inheritance). This was to be in the time of deliverance on Mt. Zion – a Messianic time. Does this blessing of possessing their possessions suggest that at times we do not possess our possessions?

Perhaps for many of us, our possessions possess us! We spend much time, effort and money not only obtaining, but also in maintaining our possessions. Remember that Proverbs 22:7 says, “The borrower is servant to the lender.” When we borrow to maintain a “life style” over what we need, do our possessions possess us?

It is certain that abundance of “modern conveniences” do not guarantee us any greater happiness and serenity in life. I suspect most would be happier if we would remember Jesus’ admonition to Martha. He did not intend it to be for women alone!

“Less is more” is true of more than taste in decorating. It is a principle that can also help us to find more focus on high priority concerns in our lives as well. Further, we can do this in a way that will give us less worry and more peace.

Let us learn to be content with the one thing we really need, and not worry about the many things we merely want. By doing this, we will have more of the mind and life of Jesus – and He will bless us more with His peace and joy in life.

Now, would someone please pass the fried okra and potato skins? They go so well with the catfish and hush puppies on top of the ham & yams, turkey & dressing, and all the trimmings…. Then after dinner, I’ll eat my deserts in front of my 52″ plasma TV while I watch the kids play with the Wii until I drop off for a nap, which won’t be long because my gut is stuffed.


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